At our church’s women’s meeting on hospitality a young woman shared a powerful testimony of her mom’s example of hospitality. It is a perfect illustration of John Piper’s quote from yesterday: “Never underestimate the power of your living room as a launching pad for new life and hope and ministry and mission.” May we all be inspired by this woman’s example:
For as long as I can remember, my parents have made hospitality an integral part of our family life. Though my mom has used her home countless times to serve, bless, and welcome relatives and church members, God has recently used her hospitality in evangelism.
Last year, my mom started to befriend my neighbor, (I’ll call her Sue) meeting her for coffee and starting to build a relationship. When my neighbor tragically lost her husband, my parents invited her over for dinner every Wednesday night as a way to offer comfort and support. In order to make our home a place where Sue felt loved and accepted, my mom purposely did nothing out of the ordinary. She didn’t scrub the kitchen floor or prepare a five-course meal or even dress up. She just invited Sue into our family. In order to make Sue feel accepted, my mom incorporated her into our everyday traditions. In our family, everyone has their own napkin ring so that we all know exactly where to sit at the table; so, on Sue’s first night over, my mom got out a new napkin ring and handed it to her, telling her that it was her napkin ring now and that we would look forward to her coming every week. A couple of months later, Sue shared with us how much that simple gesture had meant to her, and that she truly felt part of our family.
Using hospitality in evangelism not only makes your friend part of your family, it also, by God’s grace, demonstrates the gospel in action. From the way my mom cheerfully greets my dad when he walks in the door, to the way my dad gently corrects us, to the way we do our chores without being asked, our everyday actions prove the power of the gospel. When Sue wonders how my mom and dad became such wonderful parents, or how they have such a healthy relationship, my mom has the opportunity to tell her why. Three-fourths of the time their conversations aren’t about the gospel at all; they just talk about life. But while my parents don’t avoid the gospel, they certainly don’t force it either. Rather, they feel that God has more room to work with a firm basis of friendship and trust.
Personally, I really appreciate the way my mom has incorporated our entire family in hospitality. Wednesday nights aren’t a one-woman-show; she’s purposefully includes all of us. Actually, she began integrating us years ago when she trained us to help around the house, to have meaningful conversations with adults, and to welcome others into our family. When my mom first started teaching me to wash the dishes and make my bed, I could never have imagined that God would one day use my chores as a witness to the gospel. But Sue finds it amazing that my brother and I cheerfully start clearing the table without being asked. Evangelism has brought an eternal perspective to my everyday life reminding me that, when the gospel starts working, ordinary life becomes amazing.
When I look at my mom’s life and the way God is using her to reach the lost, I’m struck by her faithfulness to obey God’s commands, even when it didn’t seem so important. The way my mom uses her hospitality to evangelize began over twenty years ago, as she learned to cook, trained us to do our chores, and began practicing hospitality within the church. Now God is using those gifts, not just to bless Sue, but also her accountant. ‘Her accountant?’ You ask? The Wednesday before Christmas, Sue brought us a tin of peanuts from her accountant, explaining that once she had mentioned our Wednesday dinners to him and that now he always asks about us and our time together and wanted to give us a gift. I think it’s a reminder from God that the effects of our hospitality aren’t confined to our home. All of the little things you’re doing today: changing diapers, correcting math tests, cooking dinner after dinner; they all have an eternal effect.
We no longer see Sue every Wednesday, but dinners with her have become normal: last week we ate diet chicken as we sorted out our schedule for the week. But these dinners, they mean a lot to Sue because they show her that someone cares about her. Our entire family is looking forward to the day when Sue understands that God is the One who cares for her and who makes our care for her possible.
If my mom were here tonight, she’d want you to know that none of this is her doing. It’s all because of God, and it’s all for his glory. He brought Sue into our lives, He led us to extend hospitality to her, and He is using it all to show His love for her.